Justia Government & Administrative Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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This case arose out of a dispute over provisions in a written contract for sewer drainage and treatment services between Groveland Water and Sewer District (“GWSD”) and the City of Blackfoot (“the City”). Individuals living outside city limits, or entities located outside city limits, but within GWSD, were required to sign a “consent to annex” form in order for the City to agree to connect them to sewer services. The dispute ultimately made its way to district court, where GWSD alleged that the City’s requirement violated GWSD’s jurisdictional sovereignty under Idaho Code section 42-3212. GWSD’s complaint against the City sought: (1) a declaratory judgment; (2) a finding of anticipatory breach of contract; and (3) injunctive relief. On motions from the parties, the district court granted GWSD’s request for preliminary injunction and for partial summary judgment on the anticipatory breach claim. After further motions, the district court granted summary judgment to GWSD on the remaining claims. The City appeals. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decisions. View "Groveland Water and Sewer Dist v. City of Blackfoot" on Justia Law

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Stephan Byrd and Erika Mullins jointly filed an application for an encroachment permit with the Idaho Department of Lands to add boat lifts to their existing two-family dock on Priest Lake. Neighbors Cal Larson and Steven Coffey objected the application, arguing that Coffey owned a strip of land between the ordinary high water mark of Priest Lake and the waterward boundary lines of the Appellants’ properties. Following an administrative hearing, the Department of Lands denied the encroachment permit upon concluding that the record failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that Byrd and Mullins were littoral property owners with corresponding littoral rights (a key requirement to build or enlarge encroachments on the lake under Idaho’s Lake Protection Act). Finding no reversible error in that finding, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgment upholding the Department's order. View "Byrd v. Idaho State Brd. of Land Commissioners" on Justia Law

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Christopher and Debra James appealed a district court order granting summary judgment in favor of the Idaho State Tax Commission (“Tax Commission”), reversing the decision of the Board of Tax Appeals (“BTA”). The district court affirmed the Tax Commission’s notice of deficiency decision, which disallowed a net operating loss carryback because the Jameses missed the deadline to claim the loss. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision: Idaho Code sections 63-3072(e) and 63-3022(c)(2) required the Jameses to file their amended 2012 Idaho tax return by December 31, 2015, to carryback their 2014 NOL to the 2012 tax year. The Jameses failed to do so. View "Idaho State Tax Commission v. James" on Justia Law

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While incarcerated in the Ada County jail, Appellant Tom Williamson fell from the upper bunk bed during a request that he stand for roll call. Williamson suffered a head injury and sued Respondents Ada County and the Ada County Sheriff (collectively “Ada County”), alleging they were negligent in maintaining unsafe bunk beds, ordering him to descend from the top bunk bed for roll call, and in responding to injuries he suffered. The district court dismissed the case after concluding Ada County was immune from liability under Idaho Code sections 6-904(1) and 904B(5). Williamson appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the district court’s decision to dismiss Williamson’s claim that Ada County was negligent in ordering him to descend from the top bunk for roll call, and remanded the case for further proceedings. The Court affirmed the district court’s dismissal of Williamson’s remaining claims. View "Williamson v. Ada County" on Justia Law

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Peyton Gifford and Mollie Gabaldon (“Parents”) filed a complaint as individuals, guardians ad litem for their son, and putative class representatives, alleging that the West Ada Joint School District #2 (“West Ada”) illegally charged tuition fees for the second half-day of kindergarten instruction. The district court dismissed Parents’ complaint for lack of standing because Parents did not pay the allegedly illegal fees. On appeal, the Idaho Supreme Court held that although the district court properly concluded that Parents lacked standing to pursue a claim based solely on an economic injury, it failed to consider whether Parents had standing to assert a second, discrete injury: loss of educational opportunity for their son. Accordingly, the Court concluded Parents had standing to pursue their educational claims. View "Gifford v. West Ada Joint School District #2" on Justia Law

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Two petitions reached the Idaho Supreme Court, both seeking to declare two statutes unconstitutional and to issue extraordinary writs: a writ of mandamus and a writ of prohibition. First, Michael Gilmore sought a declaration that Idaho Code section 34-1805(2), as amended by SB 1110, violated the people’s constitutional initiative and referendum rights. SB 1110 requires that, for an initiative or referendum to appear on the ballot, organizers must obtain a threshold number of signatures from “each of the thirty-five (35) legislative districts” in the state. Gilmore argued this violated the equal protection clause of the Idaho Constitution and unconstitutionally divides the people’s legislative power. Gilmore also petitioned for a writ of mandamus ordering the Idaho Secretary of State “not to implement” the statute as amended. In the second petition, Reclaim Idaho (“Reclaim”) and the Committee to Protect and Preserve the Idaho Constitution, Inc. (“the Committee”), sought a declaration that the new signature threshold mandated by SB 1110, requiring signatures from every legislative district, was unconstitutional. They also challenged the constitutionality of another statute, Idaho Code section 34-1813(2)(a), amended in 2020, stating that an initiative may not become effective earlier than July 1 of the year following the vote in which it was passed. Reclaim and the Committee contended both amended statutes nullify the people’s fundamental constitutional right to legislate directly. They also sought a writ of prohibition to prevent the Secretary of State from enforcing these statutory provisions. After review, the Supreme Court: (1) dismissed Gilmore's petition because he lacked standing; (2) granted Reclaim and the Committee's petition in part by declaring that section 34-1805(2) violated Article III, Section 1 of the Idaho Constitution, and the SOS and Legislature failed to present a compelling state interest for limiting that right. Furthermore, the Court declared section 34-1813(2)(a), violated Article III, Section 1 of the Idaho Constitution because it infringed on the people’s reserved power to enact legislation independent of the legislature. Accordingly, the Court granted Reclaim and the Committee’s petition for a writ of prohibition preventing the Secretary of State from enforcing this provision. View "Reclaim Idaho/Gilmore v. Denney" on Justia Law

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Jane Doe (Mother) and John Doe (Father) were a married couple and the biological parents of E.W. (Child). Mother and Father were both incarcerated from 2015 until 2020. Mother gave birth to Child while incarcerated and asked her friend Jane Doe I (Guardian Mother) and her husband John Doe I (Guardian Father) to care for Child until Mother was released. Guardians raised Child since her birth and presently act as legal guardians for her. Guardians filed a petition seeking to terminate the parental rights of Mother and Father and to adopt Child. A termination trial was held by the magistrate court, after which the magistrate court terminated the parental rights of both Mother and Father. The magistrate court found that Mother had neglected Child and was unable to discharge her parental responsibilities. The magistrate court further found that Father had abandoned and neglected Child and was also unable to discharge his parental responsibilities. The magistrate court then granted Guardian’s petition for adoption. The Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the Guardians’ Verified Petition failed to allege any facts supporting termination of Mother’s and Father’s parental rights, thereby violating the parents' due process right to notice regarding the bases upon which termination was sought. The case was remanded to the magistrate court with instructions to dismiss the petition without prejudice. View "Doe I v. Doe" on Justia Law

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Douglas Waite appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission (“Commission”) decision requiring him to repay unemployment benefits he received, along with interest and penalties. Waite claimed the Commission’s determination that he willfully misstated a material fact for the purpose of obtaining unemployment benefits was not supported by substantial and competent evidence and was incorrect as a matter of law. Additionally, Waite argued the Commission erred when it concluded that Idaho Code section 72-1366(12) required him to repay the unemployment benefits he received. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decision and order. View "Waite v. Moto One KTM, LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from a years-long dispute between Robert Elgee and the Retirement Board of the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (“PERSI”) regarding the payment of retirement benefits accrued during Elgee’s service as a magistrate judge. Elgee became eligible for PERSI benefits in 2010, but operating under an erroneous interpretation of the statutes it administers, PERSI maintained Elgee was not then entitled to receive benefits. Eleven years, numerous administrative determinations, and two judicial review actions later, the parties continued to disagree on issues relating to the calculation of benefits, the interest due on benefits, and whether Elgee was entitled to damages for the tax consequences of receiving a lump sum payment of retroactive benefits. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court as to the applicable rate of interest, reversed as to the remaining issues, and remanded for entry of judgment. On remand the district court was directed to enter judgment that reflected: (1) the PERSI Board’s determination that Elgee was due interest at the regular rate of interest under the PERSI statutes was affirmed; (2) the PERSI Board’s determination that Elgee was due interest from 2013, rather than 2010, was set aside; (3) the PERSI Board’s determination that Elgee was due benefits under the contingent annuitant option, rather than the regular retirement option was affirmed; (4) the PERSI Board’s determination that Elgee failed to prove his tax loss claim in 2018 was set aside; and (5) the PERSI Board’s determination that tax loss damages were not available under the PERSI statutes was affirmed. View "Elgee v. Retirement Brd. of the Public Employee (PERSI)" on Justia Law

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In December 2014, Steve Tenny sustained a right-sided lumbar disc herniation injury during the course of his employment with Loomis Armored US (Loomis). He immediately began treatment, receiving a series of right-sided steroid injections in his back. At some point shortly after the second injection, Tenny began to complain of increasing left hip and groin pain and underwent testing and treatment for these symptoms. However, the worker’s compensation insurance surety, Ace American Insurance Co., ultimately denied payment for treatment related to the left-side groin pain. Following the matter going to hearing, the Referee recommended that the Industrial Commission find that the left-sided symptoms were causally related to Tenny’s December 2014 industrial accident. The Industrial Commission adopted the Referee’s findings, and after unsuccessfully moving for reconsideration, the employer and surety (collectively, "Defendants") appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court. At issue before the Supreme Court was the question of causation: Was the left-side groin pain experienced by Tenny causally related to his industrial accident? Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Industrial Commission's decision. View "Tenny v. Loomis Armored US, LLC" on Justia Law